April 22, 2005

Bowman leaves city of Moline to join "Renew Moline" development group

Apparently, the recent title change from "assistant city administrator for economic development" to "economic development director" that city officals gave him wasn't enough to keep Moline economic development honcho Jim Bowman in place. Bowman has decided to get his checks from private investors group "Renew Moline", rather than the city. Since the majority of Bowman's work has involved working with (and one could argue, for) the group's purposes anyway, it's a distinction without a difference for him to be officially employed by "Renew".

Economic development director Jim Bowman will leave the city of Moline on May 13 to become executive director of Renew Moline.

Renew is a non-profit private organization that focuses on development within the downtown area. It has worked with the city to facilitate many projects since it was launched more than 10 years ago, including the John Deere Commons, John Deere Pavilion, Bass Street Landing and the Radisson Hotel.

The public-private partnership between the city and Renew Moline has been marked with successes over the years, and Mr. Bowman says that prosperous relationship will continue.

"I get the opportunity to step into a very successful organization and a successful model, one that is proven, one that can only be built upon. My goal is to continue the effort that Renew Moline and the city of Moline have worked hard to accomplish," he said.

Mr. Bowman has been in charge of the city's economic development programs since February 2004, spearheading several projects, including the new parking garage, the technology corridor, and the downtown Main Street initiative.

Bowman follows the now well traveled career path of so many public officials. He puts in his time in government, then cashes in by working for the well-heeled interest groups that he formerly dealt with in his government position.

It's all about the Benjamins, and one has a hard time faulting anyone for going where the cash is. But the practice is so prevalent at higher levels of government, it's a little disconcerting to see it making it's way down to the municipal level.

So apparently the moving force in Moline government that has managed to develop many high-end projects, the majority of them related to Deere & Co., in downtown Moline is going to work for a private consortium of business interests who want to see Moline developed according to their vision and benefit.

Trying to revitalize a downtown area with strikes against it such as Moline's is not easy. But while there's certainly been a barge-load of money pumped into the downtown area, it is certainly debatable whether the effort as a whole has been more than marginally successful. The only businesses which have seemed to be able to hang on are the most heavily capitalized, such as national chains and other businesses with large amounts of cash behind them.
Small to medium size business start-ups have been routine failures in the area, and that is a glaring problem.

But it appears that now Bowman won't have to worry about the small fish, as he'll now represent the big boys who will be paying in part for his backward connections within city government.

We wish him well, and hope that perhaps he might influence his new employers to start thinking outside of the existing downtown Moline development box.


At 4/24/2005 12:25 AM, Blogger Milton said...

This group; Renew Moline are something else. The members seem to have cashed in on property they personally or the companies they represent have sold to the city. If they have not sold their property to the city, they have had the city remodel their property at taxpayer’s expense.

Why does the city need an isle going through downtown? When you can't fill the potholes! How many restaurants and business have failed? How many times do have to renew it? If none of the major Hotels are willing to put their own capitol to build. Is going to be a good deal for the taxpayers to finance it?

Does the local press really look books to the Mark?


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